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Alice by Christina Henry

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Alice is a darker book than I usually read. Not dark in a horror or gory way, but in a way where a lot of bad things happen in a really bad place and not a lot of good is going on. Old City, where the novel takes place, is split up into sections that are run by (the equivalent of) mob bosses and the citizens live in constant fear of the bosses or those who work for them. Everyone is poor and women live in constant fear of being raped, or eaten then raped. It's a grim read.

In addition to being depressing, I don't feel that Alice and Hatcher's characters were developed very well. Alice seems very wishy washy in her thoughts and actions aren't always believable. For me Hatcher felt like a crutch for Alice to get where she needed to go in the book. She is not a strong enough character to stand on her own.

Many of the ideas in the book are interesting and I like how Cheshire, the Caterpillar, and the Rabbit were made into men and each of their lairs were very imaginative. The ending though is one of the most disappointing endings I've read. It feels like the author had no idea how to get out of the corner she backed herself into so she just decided to invent something quick and easy that didn't have anything to do with the rest of the story.

It's not a terrible book and it was interesting enough to finish, but I just didn't like it.

2/5 Stars

September Recap

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For me September was busy and held a variety of things. I started the month off in North Carolina visiting family and celebrating my nephew's third birthday. We have had cooler weather in Seattle since the end of August and Fall weather is definitely in full swing now. Here are some highlights from the rest of the month:

New Book Releases
In Paris September 4
Vengeful September 25
Instantly French September 25   
The Little Swedish Kitchen September 25
The Botanical Bible September 25 

Events
Victoria Schwab at Third Place Books. As usual, she was fantastic! I love the vast majority of her books. She has an extremely varied range of books so there's something for everyone from her library.


The Early November at El Corazon. My favorite band since 2002 and it was so, so good to see them live again. AND I got to hear my very favorite song live.



Food
Il Corvo. A favorite among both locals and visitors, somehow it took me 6.5 years to try this place. Despite it being really popular, I was disappointed. The flavors didn't wow me.
TNT Taqueria. My second time here, but this time I had the Gringo Burrito and it was amazing. I can no longer say I don't like burritos.
McMenamins Tavern on the Square. A friend introduced me to McMenamins Anderson School. McMenamins is a company that turns abandoned buildings or lots (in this case, a former middle school) into usable space again. Here they have a hotel, pool, brewery, a few restaurants, and more. The food was good, the atmosphere was great, and I can't wait to explore more here. It would also be a fun staycation for a weekend- you'd never have to leave the grounds!

Pioneer Square, near Il Corvo


Miscellaneous
Outlander. I started watching this tv show and it had a big impact on me. I binged the first season over a few days and have had to take a break before starting the second season to let my emotions recover.
iPhone XS. I am fortunate enough to be on a two-year cycle of getting whatever new iPhone comes out. I upgraded from the 7 to the XS and it was a big jump. I originally didn't like the idea of facial recognition and had planned on getting an 8 Plus, but the camera was too good of a draw and I did not want a phone as big as the plus is. It's like carrying around an ipad! I love love love my new phone and am excited to take it on our trip in a few days.
Yoga.  I started practicing Yoga in August and this month I participated in Adriene Mishler's Yoga for All. I'm a little behind and have one day left in the course but I highly recommend it, it has been challenging but so fun and rewarding.

Next month I am looking forward to the release of Muse of Nightmares (If you haven't read Strange the Dreamer, go! Hurry!), visiting the Southwest US for the first time, and HALLOWEEN. How was your September?

If you would like to follow along with me throughout the month, you can find me on Goodreads and Twitter.

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

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I purchased Clean Sweep last year for $1 and it has been hanging out on my kindle ever since, which was a mistake. I picked it to read late one afternoon on a whim and I barely set it down until I finished it later that same night. More than an enjoyable read, this book made me think this is the kind of story I want to write.

Dina is an innkeeper in a small Texas town, but innkeeper doesn't mean what you think it does. Yes, she owns a big house and rents out rooms, but she is also magically connected with her house. It can communicate with her and react to things she asks or says. And it can heal her.
The house and grounds provide a place for non-humans to stay casually or for sanctuary.

My favorite thing about this book is Dina's connection to her house. In addition to being laugh-out-loud funny at times, I am in awe of the magical aspect of this book. I wish there were more! I also like that vampires and werewolves have a scientific explanation rather than a magical one. I have already downloaded the second book in the series and can't wait to read more.

100/5 Stars

Wednesday Whimsy #20

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Bonjour and happy Wednesday. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I deleted the app from my phone. I'm making a separate post about it, but the jist of the reasoning behind it is I kept getting super specific ads that they only could have picked up on if they listened to all of my verbal conversations despite my not giving them microphone access. Until the next great social media platform comes out, I'll be using Twitter a little more. Check there for updates on our Southwest Road Trip next month. I'm also working on a month recap to post here what I would have normally put on Instagram, plus more.

Book
As seen above, Ann Mah's Instantly French has been released! If you're like me and have only gotten that big bulky instant pot out from the bottom cupboard in your kitchen a handful of times, this book is for you. I haven't gone through and marked all of the recipes I want to make yet but that is mostly because I happened to open the book to the page for Short Rib Shepherd's Pie and I am definitely going to make that first. We a short rib CRAZY in this house.

Links
Just a few this week... how French beauty can be high-maintenance too.
Paris is for (Book) Lovers. (Check out the rest of her site-it's great!)
How to get started on a 5 piece French wardrobe. I'm most excited about this one since I'm getting out my Fall/Winter clothes soon.

T.V
Slightly off the French topic (but not too much since they do mention France quite a bit) is my new television obsession: Outlander. I know I am extremely late to the game but. But. This show!!!!! I binged the first season and had to take a break before the second because my emotions needed a break. I also have the first book and plan to start that after we get back from our trip.

The Ozite Cycle Series by Rebecca A. Demarest

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I met Rebecca after I moved the Seattle Ladies Comic Book Club up to Arcane Comics in Shoreline- she actually ended up taking over the club over for me. Quite a while ago she told me about this series she was writing and it sounded absolutely wonderful. A short time later (which at this point is quite a while ago) she told me about a fundraiser she was running to fund printing of the third book. I chose the option to get a digital copy of the first three books and I finally read them on the way back from my trip to North Carolina at the beginning of September.

Thea of Oz
Thea is from Earth but has been in Oz almost as long as she can remember. Global warming on Earth has increased the frequency of storms that transport people to Oz. As a result, Oz has taken in Earthen refugees.
Though I am not overly familiar with Oz and and am not sure what has been made up for this story and what is from the original world of Oz, I still really enjoyed this story. Though these books are novella length, somehow she has condensed down the feeling of a full-length novel into thirty-something pages.
We learn along with Thea that she is a descendant of the original Dorothy. Thea and her cat, Mrow, accompany the Minister of Trade to oversee a project on behalf of her aunt.

Zosozo in Oz
Thea travels as an honorary member of the royal family to see first hand the condition of the camps where most of the Earthen refugees live. While there she discovers that many of them have become addicted to the drug Zosozo. The whole situation feels off to Thea, and she discovers that the refugees are actually being encouraged to take the drug.
I loved the second book in this series. This one still felt like I had read a whole book by the time I was done with this novella.

The Ruby Caverns of Oz
After a confrontation about the Zosozo epidemic, Thea is forced to flee into the mountains. This book has the most fantasy elements to me. We see a totally different landscape from the other books and we get to meet the Wizard of Oz. I was hoping that this was a trilogy and the last in the series but only because I didn't want to wait for another book to come out! I'm not sure how many novellas are planned for this series but this is not the last one.

I can't wait for more of these to come out- I have been assured that she is in the process of writing the fourth one now.

5/5 Stars

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

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It's difficult to begin about City of Ghosts. It is really an amazing book- it reminds me of one of my all-time favorite books, The Graveyard Book. Cassidy drowns in a lake but she is saved by a ghost, Jacob, who becomes her best friend. Since coming back to life she has been able to cross the Veil into the place where ghosts stay when they can't move on. Her parents, writers of paranormal books, start filming a new tv show and their first stop is Edinburgh. Just like that, "two parents, a girl, a ghost, and a ticked-off cat" are off.

This book made Scotland move several spots up my TBV (To Be Visited- can we make this a thing please?) list. I loved the cat, Grim, and details about him make it clear that Schwab knows a thing or two about cats. (Hi Oliver!) There was an unexpected photography element to the story and there's enough detail that I wonder if she has a real-life interest in it. Cassidy and Jacob's relationship is detailed enough that it brought out some thought-provoking elements, like how they spend time together when he can't move anything in her world.

There are several perfect examples of why I love Victoria Schwab so much as a writer. On page 103 she writes:

"Mrs. Weathershire is pouring him a cup of tea, the cup so small in his broad hand it looks like she's dumping hot water straight into his palm."

Details like this give such life and imagery to the story that it is impossible not to have your head filled with rolling scenes as you read. I'm glad I read the second half of this book while outside on a nice day because there were some creeeepy parts. By the way, it's so good I read this book in two sittings. This was the perfect book to kick off my September/October holiday reading.

100/5 Stars

Vicious by V.E Schwab

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Victoria Schwab is a unique writer for me; I love about half of her books and strongly dislike the other half. I can't think of another author I feel that way about.

Anyway, I think that's why I had Vicious for so long before reading it. Which is too bad because it is a great book! Two college students, Victor and Eli, discover that there is a pattern for those who have developed supernatural abilities: they had a near death experience prior. Naturally, they decide to experiment on themselves.

The direction each one takes with their new abilities makes for an exciting read. It's another example to prove that what one does with the hand they've been dealt makes all the difference.

I'm keeping this review short and sweet because I don't want to give too much away. I highly recommend reading this one soon because the sequel, Vengeful, comes out on September 25th, 2018. For those in the Seattle area, Victoria will be at Third Place on September 28th.

5/5 Stars